Girl Interrupted

  • Directors: James Mangold
  • Producers: Douglas Wick, Winona Ryder
  • Writers: James Mangold, Lisa Loomer, Anna Hamilton Phelan
  • Genres: Biography, Drama
  • Actors: Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Clea DuVall, Brittany Murphy, Jared Leto, Elisabeth Moss, Travis Fine, Vanessa Redgrave, Whoopi Goldberg

Susanna Kaysen (Ryder), 18 years old in April 1967, “voluntarily” (her parents essentially force her to go there, and she is not free to leave until the staff approves her release) checks herself into the fictitious Claymoore Hospital (based on McLean Hospital, the actual institution featured in the memoir), after an overdose of aspirin and her stay extends for over a year.

She befriends fellow patients Polly “Torch” Clark (Elisabeth Moss), a burn victim; Georgina Tuskin (Clea DuVall), a pathological liar; Daisy Randone (Brittany Murphy), a sexually abused girl with an eating disorder and who cuts herself; Janet Webber (Angela Bettis), an anorexic; Cynthia Crowley (Jillian Armenante), whose only disorder seems to be a proclivity to dress like men and is there because her parents don’t want to see her; and others, and forms a small troupe of troubled women in her ward. Susanna is enchanted in particular by Lisa Rowe (Angelina Jolie), who has been diagnosed as a sociopath (as in the book, it is left to interpretation whether she actually is one). Lisa is a force to be reckoned with: she is magnetic, rebellious, won’t take her medication and verbally abuses the other patients. Lisa befriends Susanna and together they start causing trouble. Lisa encourages Susanna to stop taking her medications and/or trade them with others, and generally resist the influences of therapy (referred to by the patients as “ther-rape-me”).

At the end of the film, Susanna states that by the 1970s, most of her friends were released and some she saw and some never again. But there wasn’t a day “her heart doesn’t find them.”

The Dead Girl

  • Directors: Karen Moncrieff
  • Producers: Eric Karten, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Kevin Turen, Henry Winterstern
  • Writers: Karen Moncrieff
  • Genres: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Toni Collette, Brittany Murphy, Rose Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, Mary Beth Hurt, Kerry Washington

The Dead Girl is a quintet of stories about seemingly unrelated people whose lives converge around the murder of a young woman (portrayed by Brittany Murphy). The characters in the film are linked not only by their connection to her murder, but also by the difficult hand that life has dealt them. The film scrutinizes their inner struggles to overcome or surrender to their misfortunes.

The first story, titled The Stranger, focuses on Arden (Toni Collette), a quiet and diffident woman who lives with and cares for her verbally abusive, invalid mother (Piper Laurie). Arden is the character who finds the titular body and alerts the authorities, much to her mother’s dismay. She later encounters Rudy (Giovanni Ribisi), a grocery clerk obsessed with serial killers, and agrees to meet him for a date. While Arden prepares for the date in secrecy, her mother calls for her assistance. Upon her arrival to her mother’s room, Arden is berated with questions as to her appearance. Arden reacts angrily and attacks her mother before packing her suitcase and leaving home. She then meets Rudy and has masochistic sex with him.

The second story, The Sister, revolves around Leah (Rose Byrne), a depressed forensics student who prepares the titular body for an autopsy. She is obsessed with the idea that the body belongs to her sister who went missing a number of years ago. She resents the fact that her parents (Mary Steenburgen and Bruce Davison) are still searching for her lost sister and won’t accept that she is not coming back. When Leah convinces herself that the dead girl was her sister, she feels great relief and begins a relationship with her colleague, Derek (James Franco). Their blossoming romance is cut short, however, when she finds out that the dead girl is in fact not her sister. Leah is overwhelmed with sorrow and regret, but finds some solace in Derek, whom she asks for help.

The fifth and final story is called The Dead Girl and takes place a few days before Krista, the titular character, is murdered. Although she has had a hard life, Krista has a positive outlook and a sweet nature. She buys a big stuffed toy and asks her john, Tarlow (Josh Brolin), to drive her to Norwalk where her daughter lives, as her daughter’s birthday is the next day. Tarlow refuses at the last minute, however, so she has to borrow her landlord’s motorbike. Before she sets off, however, she attacks Tom (Dennis Keiffer), a man who had recently just beaten her girlfriend, Rosetta. She rings Rosetta and tells her that she’ll pick up her daughter and all three of them will move away and start a better life together. She asks Rosetta to tell her she loves her, but Rosetta simply tells her she has to go back to bed. Krista continues her journey to Norwalk but the motorbike breaks down and she has to hitchhike the rest of the way. She hitches a lift with Carl, who promises to take her to Norwalk. She is elated that she will make it there in time for her daughter’s birthday. The story ends with Krista smiling in the passenger seat of Carl’s car, wearing a pink vest previously seen in the storage space found by Ruth (Carl’s wife). She notes the time, 12:13 a.m., which was seen written on her arm while Leah (the Sister) was examining her body in the morgue.

Just Married

  • Directors: Shawn Levy
  • Producers: Robert Simonds
  • Writers: Sam Harper
  • Genres: Comedy, Romance
  • Actors: Ashton Kutcher, Brittany Murphy

The film starts off with Tom and Sarah in the airport.A few months earlier, Tom Leezak (Ashton Kutcher) and Sarah McNerney (Brittany Murphy) meet up when Tom accidentally hits Sarah with a football. A few months later, despite opposition from Sarah’s rich, uptight family they get married. However they each have a secret that they want to keep from each other: Tom doesn’t want Sarah to know that he accidentally killed her dog and Sarah doesn’t want Tom to know she slept with Peter Prentiss. Tom and Sarah decide to honeymoon at a classy hotel at the foot of the Alps. On their way there they attempt to join the mile high club, but fail when the captain turns on the fasten seat belt sign and they are forced to go back to their seats.

They arrive at the hotel and discover that Tom’s friend Kyle left them a present: the Thunderstick A-2000, which is a sex toy. Tom tries to plug the toy in the socket, but the plug isn’t built for a European outlet and he shuts down the entire village’s electricity when he tries to force it in. The newlyweds leave the hotel after Tom has a heated argument with the hotel owner. While trying to find another hotel they crash and get buried under a heap of snow, but they are able to climb out in the morning. Eventually, they get a ride from a truck driver and end up staying at a pensione in Venice. The pensione turns out to be very bad, and they soon check out after Tom discovers a cockroach on his neck while the couple are making love.

The film switches to the present, where Sarah has moved out and Tom wants to get back with her. Upon receiving advice from his father, Tom attempts to break into Sarah’s family’s household to tell her that he loves her, but gives up after unsuccessfully trying to ram the gate with a German Shepherd blocking the front gate. However Sarah opens the gate after seeing Tom make a romantic speech to the camera and the two rush out to proclaim their love for each other. The film ends with the couple recounting events from the honeymoon and Sarah’s family finally approving of their marriage and people from town knowing everything about it. There is also the chance for some interviews after the marriage has been confirmed by the priest who married Tom and Sarah.

Clueless

  • Directors: Amy Heckerling
  • Producers: Scott Rudin, Robert Lawrence, Twink Caplan
  • Writers: Amy Heckerling
  • Genres: Comedy, Romance
  • Actors: Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd, Donald Faison, Breckin Meyer

Clueless is a modernized version of Jane Austen’s 1815 novel Emma. The film tells the story of Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), a good-natured but superficial girl (based on Emma Woodhouse, the title character of the novel).

Cher is attractive, popular, and extremely rich. At a few months shy of sixteen, she has risen to the top of the high school social scene and is happy and self-assured in her insular, fashion-obsessed world. She lives in a Beverly Hills mansion with her father (Dan Hedaya), a ferocious $500-an-hour litigator; her mother is long dead, having succumbed to complications while undergoing liposuction. Cher’s best friend is Dionne Davenport (Stacey Dash), who is also rich, pretty, and hip, and understands what it’s like to be envied.

Among the few people to find much fault with Cher is Josh (Paul Rudd), her socially conscious ex-stepbrother who visits during a break from college. Josh and Cher spar continually but without malice; she refers to him as “granola breath” and mocks his scruffy idealism, while he teases her for being selfish, vain, and superficial, and says that her only direction in life is “toward the mall”.

Illustrating that Cher’s selfishness is usually innocent and relatively harmless, Cher plays matchmaker for two lonely, nerdy, hard-grading teachers, Mr. Hall (Wallace Shawn) and Miss Geist (Twink Caplan). She achieves her original purpose – to make them relax their grading standards so she can renegotiate a bad report card – but when she sees their newfound happiness, she realizes she likes doing good deeds. Cher now decides that the ultimate way she can give back to the community would be to “adopt” a “tragically unhip” new girl at school, Tai Frasier (Brittany Murphy). Cher and Dionne give Tai a makeover and initiate her into the mysteries of popularity. Cher also tries to extinguish the strong mutual attraction between Tai and Travis (Breckin Meyer), an amiable skateboarding slacker, and to steer her toward Elton (Jeremy Sisto), a rich snob.

The film has a happy Hollywood ending for Cher: Mr. Hall and Miss Geist get married; her friendships with Tai and Dionne are reaffirmed; Tai and Travis are in love; and, in Josh’s arms, she too has now finally found love.

8 Mile

  • Directors: Curtis Hanson
  • Producers: Curtis Hanson, Brian Grazer, Jimmy Iovine
  • Writers: Scott Silver
  • Genres: Drama, Music
  • Actors: Eminem, Kim Basinger, Brittany Murphy, Mekhi Phifer

The film begins with Eminem’s character Jimmy “B-Rabbit aka Bunny Rabbit” Smith, Jr. at a local rap battle MCd by Smith’s friend David “Future” Porter. A nervous Rabbit chokes at the mic and exits the competition.

After the initial scene at the music event, the movie focuses on Jimmy, a young and depressed sheet metal factory worker who is struggling with different aspects of his life. He has moved back north of 8 Mile to the rundown trailer home in Warren of his alcoholic mother Stephanie (Kim Basinger), his sister Lily (Chloe Greenfield), and his mother’s abusive live-in boyfriend Greg (Michael Shannon). Jimmy is focused on getting his music career started, but he seems unable to catch a break. Just prior to the events of the film, he ends a relationship with his girlfriend Janeane (Taryn Manning), and during the film, begins a new relationship with Alex (Brittany Murphy).

As the film progresses, Jimmy comes to realize that his life has remained largely the same since high school. At first, he considers himself a victim of his circumstances and blames others for his problems. Over time, though, Jimmy begins to take responsibility for the direction of his life and realizes that he has a large degree of control over how it will go. He begins to question whether his group of friends, including Future, are holding themselves back from moving on to bigger things. “All we ever do is talk shit,” he tells them, as they bicker about the best way to become successful in the music business. With his onstage choke still fresh in his mind, he appears to decide that he will give up on or postpone his dream of a music career in favor of devoting more time to his day job and building a home life. Jimmy’s newfound responsibility becomes evident to his supervisor at the factory as well. At the beginning of the film, when Jimmy requests extra shifts, his supervisor laughs at him (he’s usually late to work), but by the end, Jimmy’s improved attitude and performance earn him the extra work he had wanted. However, a late night shift conflicts with the next battle tournament. Jimmy initially doesn’t want to go, but a visit from Alex changes his mind. Paul, a co-worker whom Jimmy stood up for earlier in the film, agrees to cover for him.

Rabbit’s friends hype him throughout the film as an incredible rapper, but until this point the film only shows snippets of his skills. The tournament has three rounds, and in each of them Rabbit faces a member of the “Leaders of the Free World”, a group that feuds with Rabbit and his friends throughout the film. Rabbit wins both of the first two rounds with progressively more impressive freestyle raps. In the last round, he is paired against Papa Doc, the tournament’s most feared battler and Jimmy’s main antagonist throughout the storyline. Rabbit is aware that Doc knows all his weak points, so he decides to address them preemptively with his freestyle. Rabbit acknowledges without shame his white trash roots and the various humiliations the Free World clique have inflicted on him, stating that despite it all, he’s still standing in this battle – a bold move essentially stripping any opponent, Doc specifically, of all ammunition against him. He then uses the difficult life he’s had as a springboard to reveal the truth about Papa Doc: despite passing himself off as a thug, he has a privileged background. Doc, whose real name is Clarence, attended Cranbrook, a private school located in upper class Bloomfield Hills, and lived all his life in a stable two-parent household. Rabbit makes a reference to “Shook Ones Pt. II”, the beat that the DJ is spinning, by calling Papa Doc a “halfway crook”, which sends the crowd into a frenzy. Doc is left with nothing to say in rebuttal, drops the mic, and Rabbit takes the title. As Rabbit leaves the venue, Future suggests that he stay and celebrate his victory. Rabbit refuses, claiming he has to get back to work. The final shot displays Rabbit walking away, now confident of the future ahead of him.

Happy Feet

  • Directors: George Miller
  • Producers: George Miller, Doug Mitchell, Bill Miller
  • Writers: Warren Coleman, John Collee, George Miller, Judy Morris
  • Genres: Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Musical
  • Actors: Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Brittany Murphy, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Hugo Weaving, Anthony LaPaglia, Magda Szubanski, Steve Irwin

Set in an Antarctic emperor penguin colony, the movie established that every penguin must sing a unique song called a “Heartsong” to attract a soul mate who will know how to complete their heartsong. This is based in fact, since emperor couples court each other and recognize one another by their unique calls. One penguin, Norma Jean (Nicole Kidman), sings the song “Kiss”, whereupon a male penguin named Memphis (Hugh Jackman) sings “Heartbreak Hotel”. Norma Jean chooses him as her mate. They couple and Norma Jean lays an egg. The egg is left in Memphis’s care while Norma Jean and the other females leave to fish for several weeks. While the males are struggling through the harsh winter, Memphis drops the egg, briefly exposing it to the freezing Antarctic temperatures. The resulting chick – the film’s protagonist, Mumble (Elizabeth Daily, Elijah Wood) – has a terrible singing voice. However, Mumble had an astute talent for something that none of the penguins had ever seen before: tap dancing.

This ability is frowned upon by the colony’s elders, who don’t tolerate deviance of any kind. As a result, Mumble is ostracized throughout his childhood, with only his mother and his friend Gloria (Brittany Murphy) to turn to for help. Mumble then grows to an adult, still half-covered in fluffy down. Through a series of mishaps – mainly getting chased by a hungry leopard seal – the penguin finds himself far from his home and within the carefree colony of adelie penguins – penguins small in stature, but fiercely loyal to those they call friends. He quickly befriends a small group of bachelors who form a club of sorts called the Amigos: the leader, Ramon (Robin Williams), the brothers Raul (Lombardo Boyar) and Nestor (Carlos Alazraqui), and twin brothers Rinaldo (Jeff Garcia) and Lombardo (Johnny A. Sanchez). The Amigos quickly embrace Happy’s dance moves and assimilate him into their misfit group.

In the credits, the characters reunite to dance for the final number “Song of the Heart.” During the credits, it could be said that the characters appear and disappear based on the relationships between each other.

Sin City

  • Directors: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, Special Guest Director, Quentin Tarantino
  • Producers: Elizabeth Avellan, Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez
  • Writers: Frank Miller
  • Genres: Action, Crime, Thriller
  • Actors: Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, Benicio del Toro, Brittany Murphy, Elijah Wood, Rosario Dawson, Jaime King, Michael Clarke Duncan, Alexis Bledel, Powers Boothe, Michael Madsen, Josh Hartnett, Devon Aoki, Carla Gugino, Rutger Hauer, Marley Shelton

In a penthouse on the roof of a skyscraper overlooking Basin City, a fancy party is in progress. A woman (Marley Shelton), dressed in a red evening gown, is alone on the balcony. A man (Josh Hartnett), who is narrating, walks up behind her and offers her a cigarette. They exchange some small talk, he tells her that he sees in her eyes a “crazy calm”, of someone who is tired of running, but doesn’t want to face her problems alone. He tells her that he will save her, and take her far away. They kiss, then he shoots her. She dies in his arms. He says that he does not know who she was running from, but will “cash her check in the morning.”

In the DVD commentary, Frank Miller explains that the victim in this story (the Customer of the title) is actually committing suicide. The unnamed woman had dated a mobster, and when she tried to break it off, he said that he would kill her in the most terrible way possible. She then used her connections to hire a hitman (known as the Salesman) to provide her with a quick death.

On the docks of Sin City, aging police officer John Hartigan (Bruce Willis) is attempting to stop serial child murderer Roark Junior (Nick Stahl) from raping and killing 11-year-old Nancy Callahan (Makenzie Vega). Junior is the son of the powerful Senator Roark (Powers Boothe), who has paid off many police to cover up his son’s crimes, including Hartigan’s partner Bob (Michael Madsen). Bob tries to convince Hartigan to walk away, and appears to succeed, but Hartigan sucker-punches him, knocking him out cold. Hartigan then makes his way into a warehouse, knocking unconscious two local criminals. Junior is inside with the frightened Nancy and two armed henchmen, who are making sure that Junior and Nancy “get along” before leaving them alone. Hartigan shoots and kills the henchmen, but Junior shoots Hartigan in the shoulder, grabs Nancy and runs out to the docks. Hartigan catches up to Junior and shoots off his ear, causing him to drop Nancy. He then shoots off Junior’s hand and genitals, before being shot in the back several times by Bob, who has recovered. Bob tells Hartigan to stay down, but Hartigan knows he must buy time for backup to arrive (as Bob will kill Nancy if they are alone) so he tries to pull his reserve gun, causing Bob to shoot him several more times. As the sirens approach, Hartigan lapses into unconsciousness knowing that Nancy is safe, justifying himself with the words “An old man dies, a little girl lives; fair trade.”

An injured Becky departs from a hospital, talking on a cell phone with her mother. While riding in the elevator, she is met by the Salesman. Stunned, Becky hangs up the phone. The Salesman offers Becky a cigarette, implying that he was going to kill her, since he also offered the customer from Act 1 a cigarette, but it cuts to black before anything is done.